Additional budget cuts of up to 15 billion crowns, or more than 870 million US dollars, might be needed to balance the effects of the European debt crisis on the Czech economy, Finance Minister told the daily Lidové noviny on Saturday. Mr Kalousek said that given the fragile post-crisis growth, there was a considerable risk of the economy falling back into recession. The Czech government this year implemented austerity measures amounting to 35 billion crowns to reach a budget deficit of around 105 billion crowns, or 3.5 percent of the country’s GDP.
A Czech tourist bus on its way to Croatia crashed on the A9 motorway in south-east Austria in the early hours of Saturday after it went off the road and hit the side bank. Four passengers were seriously injured and were taken to a nearby hospital; another 14 people suffered light injuries. Other passengers were picked up by another bus and continued their trip. The authorities believe the accident was caused by the driver of the bus who probably fell asleep behind the wheel.
Several hundred neo-Nazis marched on Saturday through the town of Přerov, in the east of the country. The march, organized by the extremist Workers’ Party of Social Justice, passed through the town’s Romany neighbourhood. Hundreds of police officers were deployed to prevent clashed between the neo-Nazis and members of the town Romany community; the police confiscated a handgun and several batons and knives from the extremists. No incidents have so far been reported.
The central Bohemian town of Milovice, once the seat of the largest Soviet military garrison in then Czechoslovakia, celebrated on Saturday 20 years since the departure of the occupying forces. The celebrations, entitled Good Bye, Army!, was attended by Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra and former MP Michael Kocáb, who oversaw the departure of the Soviet troops from Czechoslovakia in 1991. The celebrations included a reenactment of the event by various military history clubs.
The United Islands music festival is under way on several islands in the River Vltava in the capital. The festival’s headliners include the Cuban punk band Porno Para Ricardo, Audio Bullys from the UK, and the Spanish band Balkatalan Experience, along with a number of Czech and foreign bands and performers. Entry to the festival is free of charge.
A Czech-Maori couple dedicated a granite stone to the symbolic Path of Czech-German Reconciliation near the north-eastern town of Opava on Saturday. Mr and Mrs Braddock, who live in New Zealand, had an inscription in the Czech, English and Maori languages carved in the stone. The path, which now consists of 200 large granite stones, is meant to promote understanding between the Czech and German nations.
The Czech Republic’s under-21 men’s national football team lost 0:1 to Belarus on Saturday in the bronze medal game at the European Championships in Denmark. The Czechs showed a poor performance in the match against their weakest opponent at the tournament, and conceded the decisive goal two minutes before the end of the regular game time. Besides bronze medals, the Czech team also lost an opportunity to qualify for the football tournament of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The Czech Republic will not be contributing to a second bailout package for Greece. Confirmation of the news came after late-night talks at an EU leaders' summit in Brussels, at which it was agreed that the joint rescue effort would not involve any commitment from non-eurozone countries. The Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas joined his British counterpart David Cameron in opposing a broad EU rescue effort via a European Financial Stability Mechanism which would have committed all 27 member states to provide loan guarantees. The Czech Republic has in the past taken on such guarantees for Ireland and Portugal but the authorities consider a similar service to Greece to be a much bigger risk.
The anticorruption police has asked Parliament to strip the former transport minister and Public Affairs MP Vít Bárta of his immunity so that he can be investigated for corruption. Mr Bárta is suspected of attempting to bribe fellow party members for their loyalty and confidentiality; he contends that the money was offered as loans. Requests for the withdrawal of a parliamentarian’s immunity are reviewed by the parliamentary mandate committee, which then makes a recommendation to MPs on how to vote on the matter. When Parliament decides against giving up a member for investigation, he or she cannot be investigated on the same grounds, even after their term of office expires.
The police say they have arrested twenty suspected drug dealers who peddled drugs in the centre of Prague. The suspects are all foreign nationals, and all are reported to have had hard and soft drugs in their possession. Their ringleader has a previous record of drug dealing on Czech territory. Two of them are reportedly in the country illegally and the police also found a Czech minor in their company.